Thursday, November 19, 2009

Article 19: Government launches web crime unit!

19 November 2009
Government launches web crime unit
Global Campaign for Free Expression
17 November 2009 -
The government of Iran has bolsteredits censorship regime with the launch of a new Web Crime Unit tasked withpolicing the internet for 'insults and lies". The launch comes just monthsafter the disputed election and the so called 'Green Revolution' which sawdemonstrators utilise the web as an important tool for organising. The 12 member Web Crime Unit will search the web ostensibly for cybercrimes and report them directly to the Chief Prosecutor. Although vowing tofight cyber crime in general, the Unit's political nature is indicated byits emphasis on "insults and lies" - a term often used by the judiciary todescribe opposition statements.

Iran's Green Revolution in 2009 showed that the web is one of the last remaining bastions of free expression. Before, during and after the elections, opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, aswell as other reformists demonstrated the web's potential to communicate views, inspire debate and organise support. The new Unit is the latest attempt to suppress the reform movement's last real means of keeping its campaign alive. It also shows the Iranian authorities' attempts to isolatethe Iranian media and academic community from its global counterparts, and curtail cross-cultural dialogues and debates, with the view of maintaining tight control over information, ideas, and opinions. "This new Web Crime Unit is clearly censorship and intimidation under the pretence of fighting crime," says Dr Agn├Ęs Callamard, ARTICLE 19 Executive Director. "If the Iranian government arrests bloggers, activists and journalists, they are not only attacking individuals, but also undermining the rights of their fellow Iranians and others to hear the experiences and opinions of others." The Islamic Republic of Iran has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and is therefore obliged as a matter of international law to respect the right to freedom of expression asguaranteed by Article 19.

For more information:
Global Campaign for Free ExpressionFree
Word Centre 60 Farringdon Road
LondonEC1R 3GA United Kingdom
info (@)
Phone: +44 20 7324 2517
Fax: +44 20 7490 0566


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